Fans will fight against EFL's plan to end the 3pm Saturday blackout
‘It will kill football as we know it’: Fans will fight against EFL’s plan to end the 3pm Saturday blackout and make EVERY match available for live broadcast in 2024-25
- The EFL are prepared to scrap the 3pm Saturday blackout in the 2024-25 season
- There are concerns the decision will hit attendances further down the leagues
- Fans across the EFL are primarily against overturning the 3pm blackout rule
Furious supporters say they will fight against Football League plans to ditch the 3pm football blackout amid fears it ‘will kill football as we know it’.
The EFL are considering lifting the blackout rule, which bans football matches from being televised at 3pm on a Saturday, as part of upcoming negotiations over their broadcast rights.
There are huge concerns overturning the law will hit attendances further down the leagues at clubs who depend far more on ticket sales for their livelihoods.
The EFL, headed by chairman Rick Parry (above), are preparing to scrap the 3pm blackout
‘We need to fight this with everything we have, it will kill football as we know it,’ a member of Walsall Supporter’s Trust told The Mail on Sunday.
Trust secretary Ray Dale added: ‘I have a feeling, though, this will become a fait-accompli. The big danger is that fewer people will go to matches, reducing both atmosphere and revenue.’
It’s understood EFL chiefs would only commit to such a momentous move if the broadcast package were hugely lucrative for clubs impacted. The hope is to attract streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix to buy rights to show live matches from the 2024-25 season.
An invitation to bid for live TV rights in the EFL is set to be handed out to interested parties
One League One club chief executive told The Mail on Sunday there’s a feeling of cautiousness at the prospect of opening Pandora’s Box but also a fear of falling behind the times and turning the Football League into the defunct Blockbusters.
‘Once you open the door to this, you can’t close it again,’ one League One club chief executive told The Mail on Sunday. ‘But we have to be careful we’re not dinosaurs, sitting there, stuck in our ways, saying, you know, it’s the English game. This is how it’s always been. This is how it will always be. That is a sure-fire way to see yourself slowly go into oblivion. We don’t want to be the idiots that missed the opportunity but, equally, that doesn’t mean open the floodgates.’
Sportsmail revealed this week that Sky Sports, the EFL’s current broadcaster, are opposed to lifting the blackout, which has been in place since the 1960s, from their close partnership with the Premier League as well as possible impact on viewing figures for Soccer Saturday.
If a deal is struck, all matches in England’s lower three professional leagues will be screened
‘Football is more than a TV programme,’ Lincoln City’s Red Imps Community Trust secretary Steve Freestone told The Mail on Sunday. ‘It is a cultural and social event that has always taken place at 3pm on a Saturday. The priority should always be on the fans going to the game and not those sitting at home.’
EFL clubs will break the blackout for Saturday 3pm games during the World Cup, which bosses see as a good test for any future decision.
Crawley Town Supporters Alliance chair Reuben Watt told The Mail on Sunday: ‘If fans were able to always watch their team on TV then those lower down the football pyramid would miss out heavily. There is a high chance that we would be on at the same time as other premier league teams and so we may lose fans who would prefer to watch them than us.’
The hope is to attract streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix to buy rights to show live matches from the 2024-25 season
Not all supporters are against the move, though. ‘I am in favour of ending the 3pm blackout if the terms are acceptable,’ said Plymouth Argyle Fans’ Trust chair Virginia Pike. ‘We have a lot of exiles around the country who cannot travel to many home games and they would still go to the nearest away match for the live experience.’
Kevin Miles, the chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Association said the EFL must exercise ‘extreme caution’ before ending the blackout.
‘Removing the blackout would have dramatic consequences for the pyramid, many unforeseen, which is why FSA members up and down the pyramid have strongly resisted any relaxation of this protection.’
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